Stress is an ever-present reality for many of us living modern lives. For some of us it is work, for others it’s the obligation of caring for another, and occasionally it can come from personal struggle as well. Whatever the cause or source, stress affects us all. This isn’t always a terrible thing. Stress can be the push that motivates us to improve our situation, make positive change and work on self-development.


Stress is listed as a major contributing risk factor for developing stomach ulcers as well as heart disease.


We all carry stress in different ways. Some carry stress in their muscles, causing tension and stiffness. Perhaps that’s where the adage “Pain in the neck” comes from. Stiff shoulders, pain in the lower back, sore hips are all common complaints. For some stress leads to headaches and migraines. Stress is listed as a major contributing risk factor for developing stomach ulcers as well as heart disease. Diabetics will recognize that after particularly stressful events or times in their lives they’ll have trouble controlling their sugars.
So what can be done? Move to the Bahamas and live out life on the beach with the sun overhead and a cool drink in the hand? Living a life with no stress is an unrealistic expectation. Here are some methods for stress-reduction that are time-tested and scientifically proven.
Now some of you may cringe when I mention exercise, but hear me out. Even 10 minutes of intentional exercise that gets you sweating, with an increased heart rate and heavy breathing has been shown to significantly increase endorphins (“happy hormones”) in your body. Any non-work activity can do this. Yes, that includes sex. In fact, sex does this better than any other activity.
Intimate touch and contact will trigger a relaxation response suppressing stress hormones in the body. Anyone who’s ever had a massage can tell you this. It doesn’t even have to be as involved as that. A hug can do just the same. Actually, the longer the hug, the higher the response. Don’t like hugs? Time spent in the company of friends or loved ones is just as good. Several studies have demonstrated that people with well-developed social circles tend to live longer.


Even 10 minutes of intentional exercise that gets you sweating, with an increased heart rate and heavy breathing has been shown to significantly increase endorphins (“happy hormones”) in your body. Any non-work activity can do this. Yes, that includes sex. In fact, sex does this better than any other activity.


Meditation is often suggested, but is difficult for beginners. Instead I often suggest taking the time to pick up a hobby that requires focus and attention. This is a form of meditation that can help folks distance themselves from the outside world.
If you find you don’t have time for any of the above, make the time. That’s what it’s all about. I look forward to seeing a lot more hugs out there!
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